Can seashells save the world?

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For hundreds of millions of years, marine creatures of all shapes, sizes and descriptions have gone about the daily business of converting calcium ions dissolved in seawater into the hard shells and skeletons that are so reminiscent of a trip to the seaside. Many of these shell-makers are tiny life forms that die in their billions each day, falling to the seabed to form what will eventually become another geological layer of rock. Without them we wouldn’t have the White Cliffs of Dover, Chartres Cathedral or any of the other limestone wonders of the world.

The chemistry behind the process of shell-making, called marine calcification, relies on a complex series of chemical equations kept in a state of equilibrium